INTRODUCTION

In 2014, the invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine was not only an unprecedented phenomenon for Europe of the 21st century, but also an event that changed the limits of influence and the balance of power on the world map. First of all, the balance of power in the Black and Azov Seas has undergone cardinal changes due to the annexation of the Crimea peninsula by Russia.

For four years, the Russian Federation systematically increased the contingent of its armed forces in the occupied Crimea and also increased the potential of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy. In addition to the occupation of the shelf near the Crimea peninsula and the seizure of Ukrainian gas producing towers in the Black Sea, Russia has repeatedly attempted to block the Strait of Kerch for Ukrainian ships by arrest and outright provocations. As the construction of the Kerch Bridge approached the final phase, these attempts became more frequent and systematic.

The events of November 25, during which two Ukrainian small-size armored artillery boats of the Gyurza-M type and a tugboat were attacked and captured by the Russian fleet in the neutral waters, showed that the situation in the region had reached its apogee.

This study is intended to show the real situation with the balance of power in the Black Sea region, by the example of comparing the potential of the fleets of countries of the Black Sea basin, except of unrecognized Abkhazia.

This study took into account the potential of the fleets of countries separately, without considering their presence in military associations and alliances. In other words, the factor of interaction and mutual assistance to NATO member countries was not taken into account in principle.

Also, the types of armaments that are in storage, in a state of conservation, as well as being on assembly lines in accordance with the concluded contracts, but not yet entered service, did not respond to accounting.

USED PARAMETERS

In the course of this study, parameters were used that were not previously encountered in any such work. This is due to the fact that most analytical bureaus, publishing houses and organizations take into account an extremely narrow range of categories affecting the country’s defense capability. Although, the combat capability of the army depends not only on the number of tanks and personnel, but also on a number of other factors not directly related to military affairs, but affecting the success of defensive or offensive actions.

Below are the parameters that were used in the analysis of the capabilities and potential of the fleets of the countries of the Black Sea basin, as well as a brief explanation of their influence.

The category “Armed Forces” includes the following parameters:

The budget is certainly an important parameter that is taken into account during a calculating of the capabilities of the armed forces. But it has many underwater economic stones, such as the standard of living, inflation and pricing.

In particular, the budget of the Turkish Armed Forces is $ 18.2 billion, but the pricing policy of the country is clearly reflected, for example, on the price of travel in the subway. So, if a one-time trip by the subway in Istanbul costs $ 0.75, then in Kiev – $ 0.18.

This simplest example explains how large the pricing imbalance between countries is and if the military budget of one country is larger than others, this does not mean that it is able to purchase more weapons, equipment, etc. And, it is very important to consider during evaluating this parameter for each army separately. However, it should be taken into account that the fleet is the most expensive branch of the military.

In the “Fleet” parameter, only warships that are in the ranks are taken into account, without those that are under construction or captured (as is the case with Ukrainian vessels in the occupied Crimea).

This parameter, first of all, includes the accounting for aircraft-class warships, frigates, corvettes, the presence of amphibious assault ships, minesweepers, submarines, etc. Their quantitative composition was taken into account and the moral and technical compliance of the ships that make up the fleets was studied with the modern requirements and challenges separately.

It should be noted that during the calculating of the potential of the Russian Federation, the total values of the Russian Navy were taken into account, and separately the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation. This is due to the geographical location of Russia, thanks to which the support of the Black Sea fleet by other fleets of the country should be taken into account: the Baltic, Northern, Pacific Fleets and Caspian flotilla.

Further, parameters are used that are more global and in some cases predetermining potential of a country.

Nuclear weapon is the main parameter in calculating the country’s ability to respond adequately to the invasion and strike first to carry out a successful occupation. Often, this parameter prevails over all others, since its global influence can only counter the equal response.

The level of development of the military-industrial complex is a parameter that takes into account the degree of development of the country’s military-industrial complex, considering the potential not only of producing new units for the fleet, but the possibility of repairing and modernizing, adapting to changing conditions in the armaments market, as well as quantity of new surveys and projects in the industry.

It should be noted that the used five-level gradation in this parameter from “minimum” to “maximum” in its limit values was not assigned to any country.

Resistance to information threats is a very important parameter that has played no less a role in the conduct of the hot phase of war than the frigates and corvettes. When analyzing this parameter, we took into account the degree of vulnerability of the country’s media space to external factors, the possibility of confronting the information environment with fakes, manipulation, etc.

The state cyber security and the vulnerability of state institutions and the social environment to hacking and penetration also occupied an important place.

The experience of conducting combat operations outside alliances is a very important parameter that determines the degree of the army’s moral readiness to conduct defensive and offensive combat operations.

At the same time, the experience of hostilities in alliances, in particular – NATO, was not taken into account, because a limited contingent of troops takes part in such operations.

For example, the aArmed forces of Turkey, Ukraine and the Russian Federation have significantly more real combat experience and moral stability to participate in conflicts, not in the format of separate units, but in general of the armed forces, than the armies of such countries as Romania or Bulgaria.

Georgia in this case is a country of a dual category, since, on the one hand, the country took part in the war in 2008, on the other hand, 10 years have passed since that time and the lack of a permanent combat contact on the front line eliminates combat experience.

The category “Economy” is rarely taken into account during calculating the combat capability of the army, although it has a direct impact on the state of the armed forces and includes the following parameters:

GDP is an important parameter on which the welfare of the country depends, as well as the financial capacity to support the army in different situations. This parameter also affects a number of social factors that arise along with defensive or offensive actions of the country, in particular, a drop in the level of income of the population, which may lead to demoralizing tendencies.

FX reserves – gold and foreign exchange reserves present a safety cushion that can be used in the event of negative factors in the conduct of hostilities. In addition, it can be used for additional funding of the armed forces, in particular – the fleet. Ideal when FX reserves exceed the average budget of the country’s armed forces by 300%.

External debt is a parameter that seriously affects the economic component of the country. The state’s debts can become a tool not only for manipulating the economy, but also as an element of political blackmail, influencing on the social situation in the country.

HDI – The Human Development Index is a very important and complex parameter, not just showing the standard of living, literacy, education and longevity of the population of a country, but also characterizing the potential of this population during economic, political and psycho-emotional upheavals. It is also taken into account when analyzing the influence of the enemy’s propaganda, the use of information technology for manipulative effects on the population.

Oil reserves and production is a parameter that characterizes the country’s ability to provide the armed forces with fuel and fuel. For example, the troops of Nazi Germany experienced great problems with fuel as they moved to the east. The size of the reserves and the daily production of the country of this resource are important factors in assessing the capabilities of its armed forces.

1. RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Armed forces:

Budget: $ 66.3 billion

Fleet (Russian Navy): 148,000 people

Surface Fleet: 332

Submarine fleet: 67

Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy: 25,000 people

GM Cruiser – 1;

Patrol vessels (frigate) – 6;

Submarine fleet (submarines) – 6;

Small-size missile ships (boats) – 8;

Amphibious assault ships – 7;

Minesweepers – 19;

Anti-submarine ships – 8;

Reconnaissance ships – 4;

Nuclear weapons: available

Level of development of the military-industrial complex: high

Resistance to information threats: high

Combat experience outside alliances: Yes

Economy:

GDP: $ 1,577 trillion

FX reserves: $ 460 billion

External debt: $ 532.8 billion

HDI: 0.816

Oil reserves and production: 93 billion barrels and 11 million barrels per day

2. TURKEY

Armed forces:

Budget: $ 18.2 billion

Fleet: 48,600 people

Surface fleet (including auxiliary vessels): 194

Submarine fleet: 13

Patrol vessels (frigate): – 16;

Corvettes: – 8;

Submarine fleet (submarines): – 13;

Small-size missile boats: -16;

Other boats: – 34;

Major amphibious assault ships: – 33;

Minesweepers: – 11;

Reconnaissance ships: – 4;

Nuclear weapons: none

Level of development of the military industrial complex: medium

Resistance to information threats: high

Combat experience outside alliances: Yes

Economy:

GDP: $ 857 billion

FX reserves: $ 105.447 billion

External debt: $ 453.2 billion

HDI: 0.722

Oil reserves and production: 0.27 billion barrels and 45 thousand barrels per day

3. ROMANIA

Armed forces:

Budget: € 4 billion

Fleet: 7 150 people

Surface fleet (including auxiliary vessels): 45

Submarine fleet: –

Patrol vessels (frigate): – 4;

Corvettes: – 4;

Submarine fleet (submarines): -;

Small-size missile boats: -6;

Amphibious assault ships: -;

Minesweepers: – 5;

Reconnaissance ships: -;

Nuclear weapons: none

Level of development of the military-industrial complex: low

Resistance to information threats: low

Combat experience outside alliances: none

Economy:

GDP: $ 187 billion

FX reserves: $ 39.953 billion

External debt: $ 130.4 billion

HDI: 0.802

Oil reserves and production: 0.6 billion barrels and 78 thousand barrels per day

4. BULGARIA

Armed forces:

Budget: $ 18.2 billion

Fleet: 4,100 people

Surface fleet (including auxiliary vessels): 29

Submarine fleet: –

Patrol vessels (frigate): – 4;

Corvettes: – 2;

Submarine fleet (submarines): -;

Small-size missile boats: -3;

Other boats: -;

Amphibious assault ships: – 1;

Minesweepers: – 6;

Reconnaissance ships: -;

Nuclear weapons: none

Level of development of the military-industrial complex: low

Resistance to information threats: low

Combat experience outside alliances: none

Economy:

GDP: $ 52.4 billion

FX reserves: $ 26.7 billion

External debt: $ 37.85 billion

HDI: 0.794

Oil reserves and production: 0.015 billion barrels and 2 thousand barrels per day

5. UKRAINE

Armed forces:

Budget: $ 4.8 billion

Fleet: > 6,500 people

Surface Fleet (including auxiliary vessels): 43

Submarine fleet: -;

Patrol vessels (frigate): – 1;

Corvettes: – 1;

Submarine fleet (submarines): -;

Small-size missile boats: – 1;

Other boats: – 9;

Amphibious landing ships: – 2;

Minesweepers: – 1;

Reconnaissance ships: – 1;

Nuclear weapons: none

Level of development of the military industrial complex: medium

Resistance to information threats: low

Combat experience outside alliances: Yes

Economy:

GDP: $ 119 billion

FX reserves: $ 16.7 billion

External debt: $ 114.8 billion

HDI: 0.751

Oil reserves and production: 0.395 billion barrels and 40 thousand barrels per day

6. GEORGIA

Armed forces:

Budget: $ 287 million

Fleet: 495 people

Surface Fleet (including auxiliary vessels): 44;

Submarine fleet: -;

Patrol vessels (frigate): -;

Corvettes: -;

Submarine fleet (submarines): -;

Small-size missile boats: -;

Other boats: – 19;

Amphibious landing ships: –;

Minesweepers: -;

Anti-submarine ships: -;

Reconnaissance ships: -;

Nuclear weapons: none

Level of development of the military-industrial complex: low

Resistance to Information Threats: Medium

Combat experience outside alliances: insignificant

Economy:

GDP: $ 15.1 billion

FX reserves: $ 2.756 billion

External debt: $ 14.116 billion

HDI: 0.745

Oil reserves and production: 0.035 billion barrels and 0.4 thousand barrels per day

CONCLUSION

According to the study, the Russian Federation has a cardinal advantage in the region, which is achieved not only by the country’s presence of nuclear weapons, but also by the prevailing superiority in the number of warships and submarines.

The only one country in the Black Sea region that can compete with the Russian fleet is Turkey, but given the fact that the Russian fleet can receive regular assistance from other fleets of the Russian Navy, this kind of balance is leveled out even if you do not take into account the factor that the Russian Federation is nuclear state.

Other fleets of the Black Sea basin have insufficient combat potential in order to be a counterweight to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy. In addition, the warships of the fleets of Romania and Bulgaria are morally obsolete for the most part, and Georgia, in fact, does not have a fleet as usual.

At the same time, almost any country in the region is not insured that in the event of an aggravation of the foreign policy situation with the Russian Federation, the Russian Black Sea fleet may begin to carry out illegal or provocative actions against the military or civilian ships of this country.

Also, the analysis did not take into account the factor of participation countries in alliances, in particular, NATO, because the political situation in the region does not develop in the most favorable way that does not guarantee group support in a conflict situation.

In particular, when Georgia will join to NATO, provocations against the country by the Russian Black Sea Fleet are not excluded. But at the same time, there are no guarantees that such allies in the North Atlantic Alliance as Turkey, which is in close political and economic ties with the Russian Federation, will provide comprehensive support to the new member.

Similar doubts arise in respect of Bulgaria, a country whose government still has a very strong pro-Russian lobby and the influence of Russia mostly through the media.

In this case, a solution is possible in two ways.

The first one is the deployment of multinational military naval base of third countries outside the Black Sea basin on a permanent basis in the region, in order to oversee compliance with international norms and rules.

The second is a strict regulation of the forces and means that the fleet of each country may possess in the region in order to create equal conditions for all.

Alexander Kovalenko, military-political columnist, expert of the Center for Military-Political Studies